Thursday, 14 October 2010

Taking Care of Your Husband

As soon as I wrote that down I thought of those 60’s style magazine article’s that used to tell people to have the house perfect, look perfect and have the perfect martini ready in hand. But that’s not quite what I have in mind.

Alhamdulillah, my husband has always been a very patient man mash’Allah. He has treated me well from the beginning, putting up with tantrums, sulks, tears and mischief with grace and kindness. I have never been very domesticated (much to my mum’s chagrin and complaints before I got married that my mother-in-law will hold her responsible for not having taught me anything!). This coupled with hubby being someone who does his fair share, means that I have skived off of housework quite a bit – including never having done more than the basic amount of ironing required for work and certainly not his.

Over the years his kindness has changed me more than any amount of reprimands or bullying could ever have done. At some point in our marriage I came to the conclusion that a man this good does not deserve a lazy, rude cow for a wife and that I must try harder.

I have always had a nasty temper (as my sisters will testify after I spent half of my teenage years terrorising them – including the time I hit Long Suffering Sister over the head with a humungous hardback book in the public library and scared the life out of an old man standing near by). I prayed during hajj for the anger to go away and for me to stop hurting people (and books). I thought perhaps my prayers had not been answered, but I found that instead of disappearing overnight, my anger has mellowed over the last five years or so. This is particularly important considering my kids deserve a mother who isn’t taking her anger out on them.

Anyway, I thought that being nice to him, mostly agreeing with what he wants and helping take care of his family constituted a good wife and was enough. That was until I met some lovely sisters during Ramadan who taught me what caring for your husband was about for a Muslim wife.

I spent some time with them and observed what role the care of their husbands had in their lives. At the approach of iftar time (when we break the fast), I would think “I’m hungry, where’s the food”. The sister would think “he has been fasting today, what will he want to eat?” She would make fresh food separately for him to suit his specialised diet. Another sister would be busy washing and ironing her husband’s clothes. A third would be concerned that he should get up for time for his dawn meal before he began his fast.

They could not believe I didn’t do these things as a matter of course, they were amazed my husband did so much for me. It really made me understand that I should appreciate what I have and take care of those I value. The way we are raised in modern society is to value equality and part of that is not doing things for others and avoiding domesticity lest it make us appear that we are under the thumb of a man. A woman who does nice things for her husband is laughed and told to get a backbone instead of encouraged.

I promised myself I would turn over a new leaf and try harder. Now this does not necessitate turning into a Stepford wife and spending the rest of your life chained to an ironing board. For me it simply meant being a bit more thoughtful about the way I behave in our home and marriage. I have to cook anyway, so why not something he likes (it doesn’t help that he is not fussy mash’Allah and will not say what he prefers, so after ten years I am still trying to work out what he likes). I am about to iron my abaya, let me iron one of his clothes and put it on a hanger for him for when he gets back from work (he was dumbstruck for quite some time when this started happening!)

It’s not just about domestic chores though. I found myself biting my tongue more and letting things go more. In the end this meant more inner peace for me. Less reacting and more reflecting on what is being said. You may not agree with what the other person said, but you don’t have to answer EVERY SINGLE time, sometimes it easier to smile and leave it. Also less reacting and more responding gently; so I might not agree with what he says and I might not want to stay silent, but I don’t have to get upset. I might laugh it off or tease him about it so he understands that I don’t agree or he sees my point of view at least.

Trying to be a better wife has also meant listening to him. Considering his ideas or thoughts without instantly reacting with your assessment of whether it fits in with what you want or not.

Another aspect has been about the way I talk about him to our children. We have always presented a united front and when one gets told off by one of us they have long ago realised there is not point going to the other parent for consolation. However, we sometimes make comments about our spouses in front of our children that they will internalise: “Oh that’s just like Daddy, he’s ever so messy”. I am having to learn to bite my tongue on this one.

Finally it is about defending your partner in front of the wider family and community. My number one golden rule is never, ever take an argument back to your parents. If there is violence or abuse involved that’s different and you should look for help. If he annoyed you, or you upset him over the normal things the couples argue about: money, in-laws, work stress, housework etc, then keep the argument amongst yourselves and resolve between yourselves as far as possible. You may mention this to your family, complain and then feel better and go home and patch things up. You will both probably forget all about it, but your family will not. Your spouse will permanently have fallen in the sight of their in-laws even if the fault does not lie with that person.

I also don’t allow my cousin’s or aunts to bad-mouth my husband. I used to defend him nervously to relatives who liked to say mean things (I am sure I am not the only one who has plenty of those), until I realised he won’t let anyone say a word against me. That really heartened me and anyone who tried it now would get an earful they wouldn’t forget.

All of the things I have mentioned are just thoughts and I am struggling against my schooling and socialisation and nafs (ego) to try and come close to implementing these things in my life. But the underlying factor for any of them seems to be a little thoughtfulness, trying to think your actions through rather than reacting instantly and a little patience. It also helps to change your mindset from thinking about what I want to thinking about what is best for us collectively, especially when you have children. Anyone can argue that you are being selfish when you focus on what you want, but when the focus is on the collective good and is through mashwerah (mutual agreement), there is nothing to argue about (in theory, some men will opine that women can find something to argue about in any situation).

Last of all, there is something small and easy we can do but which brings big results: make dua (supplicate) to Allah (SWT). I ask Allah (SWT) to let us love each other for the sake of Allah (SWT) and for us to spend our lives together in the path of Allah (SWT) and to please Him. I make dua for my sisters that they find peace, respect and affection from their spouses and that their marriages become a means to attain Allah’s (SWT) pleasure insh’Allah. Ameen.

19 comments:

  1. A'salaamu alaikum sister. Masha'Allah, that was beautiful. Alhamdulillah I can say that now I am a good wife but it wasn't the case in my first marriage maaaany years ago. :-) I have learned so much and out of the many things you mentioned, the one which has helped me most was realizing we don't always have to agree. I can now be patient and simply smile as you said, or wait a few days and then decide if its really worth saying after all, instead of being reactive.

    May Allah make us all kinder to each other for His pleasure, amin.

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  2. Salam Sis,

    Hope you're doing well, it seems like you're much happier.

    It's so ingrained in us to be liek this that we don't realize what MEAN women Western women have become to their men.

    I read an amazing book called Fascinating Womanhood. Everyone who read it has improved their marriage and everyone that I give it to tells me they have improved their marriage. And many of the things you said are IN this book. SO you're definitly moving on the right track and alhamdulillah Allah granted you with the intelligence to see your mistakes before the marriage got volitile.
    So please do get this book it's only like $8 USD. And it will have a profound effect on the way you see our society and how women are.

    An Islamic point though is that the view is based mostly off christian but everything pertains to Islam too and it's not preachy for Christianity.
    Point two...another book the Surrendered Wife has a better point of view about intimate relations between spouses, i.e. give it up whenever and enjoy, which follows Islam. Fascinating WOmanhood though states the opposite in saying withhold it to make him value it more which is a mean pscological trick and unislamic. SO disreguard that point. Surrendered wife is good but should be read after WOmanhood, for womanhood goes deeper into the underlying reasons and points things out clearer.

    Another difference between the books is surender says don't tell ur hubby you're reading the book, and fascinating say do tell him. After trying both methods surrender's works better. Don't TELL him WHY you are doing it. Just DO IT.

    I guaruntee you that you will be dumbstuck and will write me after you've read this. I will even pay you the price of the book hon through paypal if it doesn't work for you. I swear by ALlah.

    Yes it's that awesome.
    Hope you enjoy it and anyone else out there that reads this....I really should blog it....

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    1. But how can you say that? How can you say that American women have become mean women to their men?????? I am American and I certainly am not mean to anyone in my family, nor are my sisters and sisters in law, nor my mother nor mother in law, nor my friends......do we not count in your eyes? You sound very prejudiced, or ill-informed or very unfortunate in your family and friends. Such broad negative and untrue statements have no place in this blog.

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  3. Ameen sis.. so nice to hear masha'Allah.. I too agree with the arguements staying between yourselves.. especially with my non muslim white family who (some) already see a big difference between me and hubby.. I just wouldnt give them the chance to say 'well, thats what u get for marrying someone different'

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  4. Asalaamu alaikum

    I guess I just can't get the word 'doormat' out of my mind. I promised myself when I was a kid that I would never let myself become like my mother and I haven't but then what have I become? Its like I'm afraid if I do become this kind of wife that I'll end up like my mom. Thoughts to ponder. Every time I meet immigrant muslim women I feel like I've gone back in time 60 yrs and we have nothing in common.

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  5. Salam,
    Masha'Allah on your blog
    I stumbled on your blog by accident I am a student nursery nurse in an islamic nursery and have been welcomed with open arms and have been encouraged to find out alot more about Islam and your blog has enlightened me

    JK
    Katie x

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  6. Asalaam Alaikum Sis

    I am absolutlu loving your blog although this is the first of your post i have read i have a feeling im going to fall in love with this blog, Masha Allah!

    I am on the road to get married and this post was very insperational to me espicially as i know one of my biggest challenges is going to be patience and learning to think before i react!

    Definatly iot is very important within a marriage to choose our battles.and not makee a mountain out of a mole hill, and learn to be a bigger person.

    Anyway Jaazak Allah Khair for this post it has been very helpful

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  7. Salam sis,
    Came across ur blog the other day and enjoyed reading it. I think i must commend you for your honesty. I think we all sometimes take advantage of the kindness our husbands show. But to realise and admit it is really great. I too have taken advantage of my husband's patience. It is very difficult to make him angry, MashaAllah for he is such a patient man. I dua'aa that Allah swt guides all of us to be more gracious and compassionate to our better halves. Ameen

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  8. I agree with others too about loving your blogs. All of your posts are too easy and easily understandable and absorptive by mind. Respecting your husband and treating as owner of your heart will increase love and respect in your husband heart too. you just need to work patiently

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  9. Asalamoaliqum :)

    Your way of writing is so honest and creative and funny and makes it all easy to follow :)

    LOVED IT :) WOW

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  10. Asalamalaikum Sister. This post is extremely helpful. I just got married a little less than 2 years ago, and I, too, feel myself struggling in this same way. For us it has been about the way we were raised and differences, I am born and raised here while he is in Pakistan. So there are pretty big differences to how a wife "should" be. But JazakAllah for such insight.

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  11. such a beautiful article How respect your husband.Indeed husband and wife beautiful relation but how to stable this relation is more important, patient is play a vital role in married life.
    Onlinequranexplore.com

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  12. re: the comment about American or western women being "mean" to their spouses - hah! i work with all non-Muslim women and they are way more "traditional" than all my Muslim friends, my own Mom, and myself. They all have busy lives, and are incredibly dedicated to their spouses. each one goes home after a busy day, including the ones who are directors and managers, and cooks, cleans, entertains her children, does groceries...the list doesn't end. and they never complain. believe it.
    i was shocked. this whole thing about us as Muslim women being so good to our husbands while non-muslim women are portrayed as awful is such a myth.

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  13. How can I stay calm when my husband keeps telling me they I'm fat disgusting and an embarrassment? I am the same size now as when we met ten years ago.

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    Replies
    1. Sounds like your husband has not been able to look past the way you look and at your character in all those years. I pity him, the connection between two souls is beautiful and transcends weight or looks.

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  14. Mahsa Allah thanks for this beautiful post.

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  15. Masha Allah thanks for this beautiful post.

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  16. Thanks for this nice article. Keep it up. :)

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